The only time Kathy Bates returned to Annie Wilkes

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Actors reprise roles all the time in sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and crossovers, but Kathy Bates returning as Misery‘s terrifying antagonist Annie Wilkes after two decades came completely out of the blue.

One of the most intense, nail-biting, and nerve-wracking Stephen King adaptations ever made, Rob Reiner’s thriller served as the breakthrough big screen role of Bates’ career and won her an Academy Award for ‘Best Actress’ that couldn’t have been more deserved.

The agonising scene of Annie shattering the legs of James Caan’s Paul Sheldon with a sledgehammer is seared into the cinematic consciousness, a harrowing combination of sickening sound design and wild-eyed mania that endures as the single most memorable and iconic moment from the entire movie.

Misery has been subjected to several thinly veiled remakes, a smattering of stage adaptations, and a part in the expanded King universe when Lizzy Caplan played a younger version of the character on Castle Rock, but nobody was expecting Bates to return to the well, especially in a commercial designed to shill a TV service.

And yet, that’s precisely what happened in 2008, when DirecTV launched its advertising campaign that used the same setup as Misery before taking a completely different turn. Just like in the film, Annie places a wooden block between Paul’s legs to prepare for the hammer blow, only to stop and directly address the audience by talking to the camera.

“I was going to unplug my DirecTV so he couldn’t watch all their fancy sports in hi-def, but that’d be cruel,” she began. “DirecTV has way more sports in HD than cable. Watching anything but DirectTV? Now that would be painful.” Annie then turns around and gears up to reduce Paul’s limbs to rubble before the commercial ends.

It’s certainly a curious way of rehashing the most storied role of an entire career, but Bates has long since made her peace with the fact it’s going to follow her anywhere and everywhere she goes. “Misery took me on the world stage,” she admitted to Reader’s Digest. “People always identify me with that but it’s nice to be in the Zeitgeist, I guess.” With that in mind, she may as well have tried to make a little extra money off the back of it when DirecTV came calling with the offer to appear in a 30-second promo.

The actor even conceded that “When I die, it will be ‘Kathy ‘Misery’ Bates Is Dead,’” so it’s not as if she wasn’t aware the shadow of the sledgehammer enthusiast would never dissipate. That being said, seeing such a memorable character reappear 18 years later to espouse the values of HD sports programming is nothing if not bizarre, although it stands to reason the star was handsomely rewarded for doing it.

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